Advice

10 Signs Your Child is ‘Highly Sensitive’ and Why This Is a Great Thing

Does your little one seem easily overwhelmed, wise beyond their years and extremely self-conscious? You may have a highly sensitive child on your hands.

It is estimated that 1 in 5 children are highly sensitive kids. While different cultures view sensitivity in various ways, society’s overall view of it is negative as it is considered an undesirable trait which is something we’d love to see changed. This is especially the case with our little boys.

highly sensitive children
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But having a highly sensitive brain shouldn’t be seen as a negative thing. It’s really not. It’s a great thing and here’s why: 

Why Having a “Highly Sensitive Brain” is a Good Thing

Sensitivity is one of those traits that has often been viewed as a weakness. After all, who has ever associated sensitivity with strength and competence? On the contrary, sensitive individuals are often viewed as easily overwhelmed, passive, and weak, just to name a few.

According to sensitivity expert Elaine Aron, being a highly sensitive individual or a child with Sensory-Processing Sensitivity (SPS) can be a very good thing.

She explains that sensitivity is an innate trait, meaning we are born with it and it is not learned through our environment. Therefore, there should be no shame linked with it.

In fact, sensitive individuals tend to be more creative, aware and open than less sensitive children. And because they are more in tune with their feelings and emotions, they tend to be more empathetic which can help them navigate many of life’s difficult situations.

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Being open means that they are also more likely to accept help, guidance, and encouragement from those around them. They are also able to process information more thoroughly.

All this support and special processing provide advantages to children with highly sensitive brains, a sort of springboard to more successful and fulfilled lives.

Ten Signs Your Child Has a “Highly Sensitive Brain”

1. They notice the most subtle details.

Have you ever done something you might not expect anyone to notice right away, such as moving your child’s pillow on their bed, rearranging a piece of furniture in your living room, or changing where you parted your hair that day?

A highly sensitive child would notice the simplest details and would do so almost immediately.

2. They easily absorb others’ emotions.

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A highly sensitive child is easily affected by others’ moods and feelings, very empathetic, taking them as if they were experiencing them themselves.

3. Shaking off intense emotions is a challenge.

It is not easy for a highly sensitive child to get over intense feelings immediately. They may need some time alone to process their emotions and they need to do so at their own pace.

4. They become easily overwhelmed.

Have you ever tried to rush out the door with your highly sensitive child, only to be faced with pushback, or worse, a full meltdown?

Well, highly sensitive children do not like to be rushed; it creates anxiety for them. Instead, they like to take their time and do things at their own pace. Loud noises, smells, and crowded environments can easily be too much for a highly sensitive child to handle.

young boy, sad, anxiety, depression, hands on head looking down
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5. They are self-conscious.

If your child takes criticism harshly, is a sore loser, or is a perfectionist, they are likely a highly sensitive child.

A highly sensitive child takes anything they perceive as negative feedback personally. The shame and guilt they feel at not being perfect and making mistakes is too much for them to handle.

They usually have a victim mindset and tend to misinterpret others’ actions. 

6. They are witty and funny.

Because highly sensitive kiddies are so insightful and observant, they can be very captivating and very fun.

embarrassing parenting moments
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They are hyper-aware of those around them, their surroundings, and themselves, which can serve as a treasure trove of funny, relatable observations

7. Things often feel off to them.

Have you had to remove the tags from all of your child’s clothing, or had to replace their sheets because they’re too scratchy?

child buttoning shirt
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Yes, you may have a highly sensitive child on your hands. Children with a highly sensitive brain tend to be more in tune with their five senses. Therefore, they’ll easily notice when something doesn’t feel good to them.

8. They seem wise beyond their years.

Because highly sensitive children are so observant and in tune with their senses, they tend to make insightful comments on seemingly ordinary or unremarkable things or events.

9. They are sensitive to foods based on their smells and textures.

Is your child repulsed by soft textures, such as pasta, eggs, or pudding? Do they gag at the sight of a melty cheeseburger or pizza?

highly sensitive cild
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Does the scent of your favourite dish elicit a litany of complaints from your child? Then, you very likely have more than just a picky eater. You may have a child with a highly sensitive brain.

10. They are easily startled.

Your jumpy child may very likely be highly sensitive if they are startled by the tiniest of noises or surprises.


Now that you have an explanation for your child’s lack of flexibility, acute attention to detail, perfectionism, and sensitivity to criticism and environmental overstimulation, you can start to figure out how to support them. Remember that patience goes a long way!  Check out our story on the different temperaments which can certainly help!

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Avatar of Gloria Ramirez

Gloria Ruby Ramirez is a writer, mother, and lover of coffee, twinkle lights, and rain who believes in the magical power of words. She is passionate about parenting, mental health, and the environment. She is a former agricultural microbiologist/plant pathologist with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from Arizona State University. Born in the desert of northern Mexico, she is mum to her beautifully energetic son and Shih Tzu, Gerty. When not writing, Gloria can be found spending time with her son and family, reading, or embroidering.

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